Your pet has been diagnosed with Asthma. Asthma is a lung condition associated with airway obstruction caused by sudden narrowing of the bronchial tubes. Typical symptoms include difficult breathing, coughing and/or wheezing. These symptoms are caused by the spasmodic constriction of the bronchial tubes and increased production of secretions from the bronchial tree.
The cause of asthma in cats is not yet completely understood. Some type of hypersensitivity response is generally blamed; however, an inciting cause is often not identified. The symptoms can range from infrequent to recurrent to constant. In some cats the disease appears to be seasonal, while in others there is recurring and eventually relentless progression of respiratory signs. Some cats may be asymptomatic between bouts of acute airway obstruction, whereas severely affected cats may have a persistent daily cough.
In some cats the symptoms begin to resemble chronic bronchitis as might be seen with a human smoker’s cough. Asthma can be very serious and some cats die from respiratory failure unless they are given prompt treatment. Even with treatment, the disease can progress.
Cats of all ages can be affected. The Siamese breed and obese cats may have an increased incidence of disease.
Asthma may be triggered by stress or by some change in the environment such as move to new house or opening of an attic or basement, a new brand of kitty litter or a new smoker in the house.
Home Care and Prevention
At home, administer all prescribed medications, follow your veterinarian’s directions and restrict caloric intake in overweight or obese cats. You should discuss proper diet with your veterinarian.
Prevention takes the form of minimizing the symptoms of asthma by removing irritants from the environment. Try to eliminate dusts and powders (such as flea powders or carpet cleaners). Consider changing litter types – change to sand, newspaper types, or low “dust” varieties – and clean furnace filters often. Try to eliminate smoking in the house (even on a trial basis) and consider using air cleaners/purifiers. Minimize use of aerosol sprays such as hairsprays and deodorizers.
Your pet will be receiving an inhaler for the treatment of asthma. Treatment must be individualized based upon each patient’s needs. Some pets have only intermittent problems while other patients have problems daily. See the guidelines below for how to treat your pet based upon the frequency and severity of its problems.
For the cat with intermittent problems use the inhaler on an as needed basis. The inhaler should be used every 30 minutes up to 4 hours to stop an episode. If the problems persist past this time or if your pet is getting increasingly stressed and having worsening breathing difficulty during this time, your pet should be immediately taken to a veterinarian for emergency treatment.
For the cat with daily problems, Albuterol will be used as needed along with Fluticasone. Albuterol can be used in a crisis as described above or on a regular schedule every 6 hours if needed in the patient that is not well controlled on Fluticasone (see below.)
Fluticasone is an inhaled corticosteroid which is not absorbed into the bloodstream and should not pose any risk of side effects. It is at least as potent as oral cortisone.
Used only for the cats with daily problems, Fluticasone is very effective at managing moderate to severe cases of asthma long term. Patients are started on the higher dosage (220 mcg/puff) and may potentially be switched to a lower dosage depending on their response. The recommended dosage is 2 puffs every 12 hours.
Use of the Inhaler/OptiChamber
Using either Fluticasone or Albuterol inhalers, the inhaler should be attached to the OptiChamber which is then attached to the face mask. 2 puffs should be delivered to the chamber and the mask should then be applied to the patient’s face. Pets should breathe through the mask for 7-10 seconds. Medication will take at least 10 minutes to show a positive effect.
Some patients may have their condition “outrun” their treatment. If you feel that your pet’s condition seems to be worsening or if the medications do not appear to be helping as well as they once did, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible. It is possible that some patients may need to be on intermittent oral medications in addition to their inhaled therapy.
As always, the staff and doctors at Alicia Pet Clinic are committed to providing you and your pet with the safest, most effective and most up-to-date medical therapy available. We will alert you of new treatments as they become available. Please do not hesitate to contact us with updates or with questions.